Fit of the Ranger Pro 13
I have a very thin lower leg and ankle, and as a result, have always had problems with heel retention in my boots. I’ve had trouble getting boots to fit properly through the midfoot, and other times, I’ve had to add lots of padding to the outside of the liner, high up on my achilles tendon, to keep my heel from lifting. Not so with the Ranger Pro 13.
Like Charlie, I found the fit of the Ranger Pro 13 to be very snug, except in the toe box, in front of the ball of the foot, where the toe caps maintain wiggle room during molding. But to me, what’s so impressive about the fit of the Ranger Pro 13 isn’t just how snug it is, but how uniform and enveloping the fit is, especially between my instep and heel / achilles tendon.
I’ve never owned boots that fit as evenly and precisely as the Ranger Pro 13 or lock down my heels this well. The evenness of the fit really helps keep the boot quite comfortable, too; the Ranger Pro 13’s fit is snug, for sure, but I have never noticed any bothersome pressure points in the boot since having it molded.
Rick Chancellor, a boot fitter at the BootDoctors, mentioned that my experience with the fit of the Ranger Pro 13’s matches that of many people he’s put in the boot: they finally got the heel hold they were looking for and hadn’t found in any other boot.
This may all sound rather idyllic, I know.
But it’s not as though the Ranger Pro 13 can be made to fit anyone’s foot perfectly, no matter how wide or how lumpy. The Vacuum Fit process does adapt the boot to your foot very uniformly and precisely, but there are some limitations given the original, starting shape of this boot’s shell.
Fit Comparisons: Ranger Pro 13 vs. Salomon X-Pro and Atomic Hawx 2.0
Compared to two other boots on the market with heat-moldable shells, the Salomon X-Pro and the Atomix Hawx 2.0, the Ranger Pro 13 is a narrower, lower-volume boot to begin with. The lower shells (the “shoe”) of the Hawx 2.0 and the X-Pro are both taller and have wider lasts on the whole (see picture below), as does another boot in Fischer’s line, the Progressor 13 Vacuum.
Specifically, the lasts of both the Hawx and X Pro are stated to be “100-106mm,” meaning the boots have a 100mm last out of the box, wider than the Ranger Pro 13. Fischer says the Progressor’s last is 95 – 105mm, and while I haven’t had the chance to take a look at the boot in person (much less ski it), I would think it would offer a higher volume fit overall than the Ranger Pro 13, too.
The point here is that, while the Ranger Pro 13 can be stretched to accommodate a wider foot (in my case I’ve probably pushed the last of the boot close to 104mm), this can pull the instep of the boot down toward the top of the foot. This wasn’t a problem for me, as I don’t have a particularly high instep, but I can’t tighten the lower buckles of my boots much—I leave them just barely buckled.
You can pad both the sides and the top of your foot before molding the Ranger Pro 13, but you can only create so much additional volume in the shell by stretching it vertically and laterally. If you have a very wide foot with a high, prominent instep, you may be forced to go with a boot with a higher “initial volume” than the Ranger Pro 13, like the Salomon X-Pro, Atomic Hawx 2.0, or the Progressor 13 Vacuum.
Jonathan Ellsworth has put time in the Hawx 2.0 120 and X-Pro 120, and has had a very good experience with both of those boots. So I don’t mean to suggest that there aren’t some good, higher-volume alternatives to the Ranger Pro 13. But I am also not willing to assume that those boots offer the same precision, fit, and performance of the Ranger Pro 13, so I mention them more as a way of explaining that, while flexible and adaptable, the Ranger Pro 13 can’t be made to fit any foot. There are other boots with heat moldable shells that may be better suited to some people.
In his review of the original Soma Vacuum 130, Charlie said, “I can find nothing bad to say about the fit of these boots or how they ski.” Neither can I. In general, I think his review communicates the character of the Ranger Pro 13 very well.
I’ll echo Charlie’s comment that, “the ease in which these boots roll is incredible.” The uniform, snug fit of the Ranger Pro 13 gives the boot a very responsive feel and great sensitivity, allowing me to engage a skis edge exactly as I want, when I want. I’d say the Ranger Pro 13 is the most precise, confidence-inspiring boot I’ve ever skied in.
If anything, after close to 40 days in the boots, the liners of the Ranger Pro 13s seem like they’re starting to pack out a bit, as the fit doesn’t seem quite as snug as it once was. But I’m not feeling like I need to replace them just yet. We’ll see how things are at the end of this season.
With respect to how the boot handles, the only reason I can think of why someone might not be happy with the Ranger Pro 13 was if they found the flex to be softer than they were expecting.
Ski boot flex ratings are not standardized, so one “130 flex” boot might feel softer or stiffer than another boot with a 130 flex rating.
Charlie compared the Ranger Pro 13 to his Lange RX 130 and mentioned that, “while Fischer has given this boot a flex rating of 130, it is more like a Lange RX 100 or RX 110.”
I don’t have any experience with the Lange boots Charlie mentions, but I would agree that it’s a decidedly “soft 130” In terms of overall stiffness. The flex of the Ranger Pro 13 seems very similar to that of other boots I’ve had in the past with a 120 flex ratings (the Salomon Falcon Pro and Full Tilt Konflict), so I personally have been very happy with the boot’s stiffness.
So if you’ve skied boots with a 130 flex rating before, more than likely, the Ranger Pro 13 is going to feel noticeably softer. And if you’re used to boots with a 120 flex rating, then I doubt you’ll find the Ranger Pro 13 to be too stiff.
But if you are looking for a boot that, say, “flexes more like what people generally regard as a ‘true’ 130 flex,” more like a Lange RX 130, Fischer does make a RC4 140 Vacuum, and an even stiffer RC4 Pro 150 Vacuum.
A final, important note about the flex of the Ranger Pro 13 has to do with the type of plastic the shell is made of. One of Fischer’s selling points with the Vacuum boots is that they offer “greater temperature stability.” In other words, the claim is that the Vacuums don’t tend to stiffen up as much in cold temperatures as other boots. From my experience, this seems to be true; the flex of the Ranger Pro 13’s doesn’t seem to change nearly as drastically with big temperature swings as my old Salomon Falcon Pro did, which is a plus.
However, at the same time, it also seems that this special type of plastic doesn’t insulate well…